The city of Washington, D.C., is suing the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers — two right-wing extremist groups with a history of violence — for the role they played in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
“I’m suing the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, the first civil lawsuit by a government entity against the Jan. 6 insurrectionists,” D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine tweeted while announcing the news. “They caused extensive damage to the District, our democracy, and particularly the brave men and women of our Metropolitan Police Department.”
Today, we’re holding these insurrectionists accountable for conspiring to terrorize the District by planning, promoting, and participating in the deadly attack on the Capitol.
I’m seeking damages in this case and will keep working to ensure such an assault never happens again.
— AG Karl A. Racine (@AGKarlRacine) December 14, 2021
“We’re holding these insurrectionists accountable for conspiring to terrorize the District by planning, promoting, and participating in the deadly attack on the Capitol,” Racine added. “I’m seeking damages in this case and will keep working to ensure such an assault never happens again.”
D.C. is attempting to obtain “damages” from the groups by citing the Ku Klux Klan Act, a law put in place following the Civil War to protect freed slaves from white supremacist harassment and violence. The modern version of the law was cited recently in a lawsuit against the white nationalists responsible for the 2017 “Unite the Rally” in Charlottesville, Virginia. A jury last month awarded nine victims more than $25 million in punitive damages, deeming the defendants liable for the sum.
The Ku Klux Klan Act has also been cited in two previous suits connected to Jan. 6. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) in February filed a civil suit against Trump and others — including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers — alleging they “coordinated and executed a common plan to prevent Congress from discharging its official duties in certifying the results of the presidential election.” In August, a group of Capitol Police officers sued Trump and others — again, including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers — alleging that because of their actions, the “Plaintiffs were violently assaulted, spat on, tear-gassed, bear-sprayed, subjected to racial slurs and epithets, and put in fear for their lives. Plaintiffs’ injuries, which Defendants caused, persist to this day.”
One Capitol Police officer was killed as a result of the attack on the Capitol, while over 70 others were injured. An additional 65 members of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department were injured, as well.
“The domestic terrorists who stormed the Capitol and violently assaulted hundreds of brave law enforcement officers were stoked by groups promoting the Big Lie,” injured Capitol Police Officer Michael Fanone said in a statement responding to the lawsuit filed Tuesday, according to the Post. “Those of us who suffered physical and emotional harm trying to defend democracy will never forget, nor will we cease working to hold accountable everyone responsible for inciting the mob, wherever the evidence may lead.”
The lawsuit notes that D.C. had to deal with the aftermath of the actions of the extremist groups, and is seeking “compensatory, statutory, and punitive relief” and that the city “intends to make clear that it will not countenance the use of violence against the District, including its police officers.” Racine very much intends for the financial “relief” the city is seeking to be robust. “I think the damages are substantial,” he told the Post. “If it so happens that it bankrupts or puts these individuals and entities in financial peril, so be it.”